I love to cook – have you noticed? It’s the kind of thing where it helps me to relax (mostly if it goes well and according to plan – let’s not discuss the recent monkey bread debacle I had). Having a set of instructions, paired with the right ingredients and knowing that what comes out on the other end is going to be tasty? It’s such a satisfying and productive hobby. What other use of your time will net you a meal AND potentially leftovers for lunch the next day? I mean, other than going out to restaurants – but that’s not really as much of an option for me as it used to be. So I’m sticking with cooking at home and trying to find yummy recipes that I trust will turn out well. And I found a new good source, though it’s a source that may not be for everyone.
So, let me backtrack a little. I have purchased cloud storage through Google. I just have a lot of stuff that gets backed up there, including the photos from my phone, and it just gives me peace of mind. It also, it turns out, gives me added benefits. A few months ago, the Google Drive storage became part of a larger thing within Google, and as a part of that, I occasionally get emails from Google saying, “You have access to a free trial of this or that”. This included three months of the Wall Street Journal online, six months of YouTube premium (no ads!), and most recently, the New York Times online. When you set up a New York Times subscription, they give you options to get newsletters from them. I think that’s the new thing with the internet in general – getting into your face any way they can, and that includes your email inbox. I signed up for a few that were relevant to me – a morning news roundup (gotta stay informed!), a “Watching” newsletter about TV shows and movies you should watch, and the cooking newsletter.
Who would have thought that the cooking newsletter would be so amazing? Ok, I should have known – this is the New York Times after all. It’s not like I was signing up for a newsletter from newbies, but this was beyond what I expected. A few times a week (3? 4? I’m not entirely sure), a newsletter appears in my inbox with links to recent recipes from the New York Times Cooking section. Not only that, but once a week there’s a “cooking without a recipe” discussion. And at the bottom of the newsletter, there are links to interesting non-food-related articles or items of interest that the newsletter author has found. It is a treasure.
Not only that, but there’s an app! And it’s an intuitive, beautifully simple app that makes perfect sense for how it should be used. The website for Cooking at the app are synced with your account, and allow you to save recipes in various places, and those recipes are categorized by the system so if you’re looking for a dinner recipe, or a side, or something vegetarian, you can find it in one place. The only thing I wish the app would do is give you a category for recipes you’ve made (although you can technically mark the recipes you’ve made, who knows where that information ends up beyond that…) so that you could go back to the winners more easily.
But the good news is that so far, everything is a winner. I’ve probably made a handful of recipes so far, and have gotten amazing feedback on all of them. It’s the kind of thing where the Boy has taken to making comments on how I’ve been re-energized and inspired to cook, and he’s happy to take advantage of it. We get to enjoy a few more family meals where we all sit down together than we would otherwise, and the girls are enjoying the things that I’m making. And although I’m cherry-picking the recipes that I know I would like, the kind of things that have grabbed my attention have also been ones that it turns out are a little healthier than one might expect – not a lot of meat, very focused on bringing out the flavors with vegetables.
I’ll share my very favorite recipe I’ve made with this app so far on Wednesday, because it’s one that I was so proud of myself for making. It was healthy, made with a variety of veggies, and had a super awesome flavor. It was easy to put together, and got rave reviews from our little crowd. I have been a little busier recently and unable to get my act together for cooking meals for the family at home what with preparing for our travels, but I think once we get back, I’m going to make more of an effort to cook the recipes that I’m saving.
Of note – the New York Times Cooking section and app require a subscription. For a year, that’s $40, and it’s separate from a Basic subscription to the Times you may have on your own (it is included in the “All Access” subscription). So it’s a bit of an investment. But because it has lots of inspiring recipes, because it’s such a well made app, and because it has features that I haven’t even begun to take advantage of – hello being able to organize recipes from all over the internet! It’s not a super-cheap investment, but I have the money to invest in something that provides me with tested, quality recipes that I have discovered, and gives lots of added value. If I feel differently at the end of my yearlong subscription, I may not renew, but at this point, I think it’s worth it for me. Because I am the sucker who loves to be told that the dinner they made is delicious. Everyone deserves to be appreciated that way.